|Decor from our first Christmas married, still boxed away right now|
I read a CS Lewis essay recently about the cultural vs religious celebration of holidays, and, just came across another story he wrote making the same point, both from a collection of essays God in the Dock. His conclusion is the one I've come to as well- let Culture celebrate their holiday as they will, it shouldn't bother me. Culture also has no obligation to celebrate the religious holiday that happens to fall on the same day as their cultural holiday if they make no claim to be a part of the religion. These two holidays can be two separate events, and individuals can choose to what extent to celebrate each one.
Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business.
I mean of course the commercial racket... read the rest
So, the War on Christmas? Only exists if we view the cultural & consumer holiday as the same event as the solemn religious celebration. My observation this year is that the two have very little overlap, besides a date on the calendar. Their songs, decorations, practices, characters, stories- totally different. There's nothing wrong with celebrating both (within reason), as long as I realize that one has nothing to do with the other. This year, for simplicity's sake, I'm choosing to opt out of most of the cultural practices of celebration.
Does that make me a Scrooge? I'm not sure. I hope not- I plan on giving gifts and visiting with family, and I look forward to it. I spent hours Sunday wrapping gifts and visiting with friends. We had a fun cookie exchange Monday with friends. I guess I've just seen this year how little cookies and wrapping paper have to do with Jesus. And that's totally OK- I just don't want to confuse the two celebrations, and let the cultural holiday take the place of the religious one, and let the Baby get lost in the shuffle.
Postscript #1: What does annoy me, though? The Christian music station playing songs celebrating the cultural holiday rather than the religious holiday. "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas" have nothing to do with the holiday the station claims to be celebrating. Those are perfectly fine songs, but the other 11 months of the year, they refuse to play secular music, so what's different about the 12th? I don't get it.
Postscript #2: This same principle can be applied to Halloween (and Easter, etc), too, in my opinion- I can easily celebrate the cultural holiday of dressing in costume and meeting neighbors and eating candy without celebrating the "religious" holiday celebrating death and darkness just as easily as Culture celebrates Santa and shopping without the aspect of new life and God-in-the-flesh.